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Nothing substantial for North East in Budget

By KALYAN BAROOAH
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NEW DELHI, Feb 26 � Barring a mere assurance expressing the Centre�s commitment to provide rail connectivity to all the North Eastern States, NDA Government�s maiden Railway Budget had nothing substantial for the region.

In his 31-page Budget speech, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu devoted only one paragraph to the region. �I am happy to announce that Meghalaya has been brought on the railway map of India and direct connectivity to Delhi has been provided to Arunachal Pradesh,� he said.

Further, the Barak Valley will be linked with broad gauge by March this year. The work for connecting the remaining States of this region is progressing well, Prabhu said.

But what he left unsaid may haunt the region, as the fate of the much hyped North East Region Rail Development Fund announced by the then Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee in 2009-2010, for which a special vehicle was to be launched, remains unknown.

�A proposal for creation of the North East Region Rail Development Fund has already been initiated to ensure necessary funds for timely completion of national projects in the region,� Banerjee had announced.

Besides, Prabhu was equally silent about the 10 national rail projects in the North East. The projects include the Bogibeel Rail-cum-Road Bridge and gauge conversion of Lumding-Silchar-Jiribam, Rangiya-Murkongselek.

The Railway Budget, which was bereft of any announcement of new projects and trains, saw Prabhu tabling a White Paper which blamed the law and order situation in the North East for the delay in execution of projects.

Many projects in the North Eastern region, Jammu and Kashmir and Naxal-affected areas of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Odisha and Maharashtra are suffering on account of law and order problems, the White Paper said.

Meanwhile, talking to this newspaper, Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, Sarbananda Sonowal said that the Budget has addressed the concern of the common men. There is no fresh hike in rail fare, while several disabled and senior citizens proposals have been made.

When asked about the fate of the major projects in the North-East like Bogibeel rail-cum-road Bridge, Sonowal defended the Government saying that the project work is going on and would continue, as it is an ongoing project.

Reacting to the Budget, Pankaj Bora said that it is much ado about nothing. �I have never come across such a budget, which has no substance at all. It is not a rail budget for aam aadmi but for khas aadmi,� he said.

And for the North-east, it is worse as there is no mention about any new project. The Budget has said nothing about doubling and electrification projects of N F Railways. What has happened to the rail development fund announced by Mamata Banerjee, we don�t know,� Bora said.

Sushmita Dev Congress MP, while hailing the announcement regarding the launching of the much-delayed Lumding-Silchar BG Project, recalled that project was announced by the then UF Government in 1996, when her father Santosh Mohan Dev was a MP.

There was no new mention about the mega block, which was announced by the previous government.

Kamakhya Prasad Tassa BJP MP seconded Sonowal said that it is clear from the Budget that priority has been given on completion of pending projects and hence no new announcements were made. The pending projects would benefit, he claimed.

Ninong Erring of Arunachal Pradesh said that the NDA Government�s Budget was follow up of UPA Government�s Budget. But he pointed out that despite fall in prices of fuel, the NDA Government did not slash down the prices of tickets.

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Nothing substantial for North East in Budget

NEW DELHI, Feb 26 � Barring a mere assurance expressing the Centre�s commitment to provide rail connectivity to all the North Eastern States, NDA Government�s maiden Railway Budget had nothing substantial for the region.

In his 31-page Budget speech, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu devoted only one paragraph to the region. �I am happy to announce that Meghalaya has been brought on the railway map of India and direct connectivity to Delhi has been provided to Arunachal Pradesh,� he said.

Further, the Barak Valley will be linked with broad gauge by March this year. The work for connecting the remaining States of this region is progressing well, Prabhu said.

But what he left unsaid may haunt the region, as the fate of the much hyped North East Region Rail Development Fund announced by the then Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee in 2009-2010, for which a special vehicle was to be launched, remains unknown.

�A proposal for creation of the North East Region Rail Development Fund has already been initiated to ensure necessary funds for timely completion of national projects in the region,� Banerjee had announced.

Besides, Prabhu was equally silent about the 10 national rail projects in the North East. The projects include the Bogibeel Rail-cum-Road Bridge and gauge conversion of Lumding-Silchar-Jiribam, Rangiya-Murkongselek.

The Railway Budget, which was bereft of any announcement of new projects and trains, saw Prabhu tabling a White Paper which blamed the law and order situation in the North East for the delay in execution of projects.

Many projects in the North Eastern region, Jammu and Kashmir and Naxal-affected areas of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Odisha and Maharashtra are suffering on account of law and order problems, the White Paper said.

Meanwhile, talking to this newspaper, Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, Sarbananda Sonowal said that the Budget has addressed the concern of the common men. There is no fresh hike in rail fare, while several disabled and senior citizens proposals have been made.

When asked about the fate of the major projects in the North-East like Bogibeel rail-cum-road Bridge, Sonowal defended the Government saying that the project work is going on and would continue, as it is an ongoing project.

Reacting to the Budget, Pankaj Bora said that it is much ado about nothing. �I have never come across such a budget, which has no substance at all. It is not a rail budget for aam aadmi but for khas aadmi,� he said.

And for the North-east, it is worse as there is no mention about any new project. The Budget has said nothing about doubling and electrification projects of N F Railways. What has happened to the rail development fund announced by Mamata Banerjee, we don�t know,� Bora said.

Sushmita Dev Congress MP, while hailing the announcement regarding the launching of the much-delayed Lumding-Silchar BG Project, recalled that project was announced by the then UF Government in 1996, when her father Santosh Mohan Dev was a MP.

There was no new mention about the mega block, which was announced by the previous government.

Kamakhya Prasad Tassa BJP MP seconded Sonowal said that it is clear from the Budget that priority has been given on completion of pending projects and hence no new announcements were made. The pending projects would benefit, he claimed.

Ninong Erring of Arunachal Pradesh said that the NDA Government�s Budget was follow up of UPA Government�s Budget. But he pointed out that despite fall in prices of fuel, the NDA Government did not slash down the prices of tickets.

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